"England expects that every man will do his duty" - St Bride's: Reflection

St Bride's: Sermons

"England expects that every man will do his duty"

victory.jpgThat was the flag signal which Horatio Lord Nelson ordered to be run up on his flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, the great naval victory on October 21st 1805, of which we celebrate the 200th anniversary this month. It is a date that celebrates both a victory and a death, that of the great Admiral himself. Nelson became the first real schoolboy hero, consciously held up by his contemporaries as the epitome of English heroism and manliness, and he is still one of the best-known of our national heroes of history. Trafalgar Day is a very English occasion, and yet how much do we know about the battle and the man it commemorates.

starkey.jpgDr David Starkey, the historian and broadcaster, has recently called for a revival of English patriotism and a renewed recognition of this country's unique role in shaping the modern world. He has claimed that English national identity is in danger of disappearing because of a post-war obsession with the European project. We are, sadly, increasingly ignorant about our past, and our inherited culture and traditions which we should celebrate, not denigrate. Isn't Trafalgar Day an excellent day on which to focus on the values and achievements of England, with Norfolk-born Nelson as one of our national heroes?

Nelson fought and died for England at the Battle of Trafalgar. We have a rich heritage of culture and history in this country - let's celebrate it.

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